Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last weekend, in preparation for Steve Rossi's  Tiddler Tour, I fired up my Moto Guzzi Airone and noticed sparks coming off the outside flywheel.  It was hitting the footrest, but why?   Turns out, I had a ton of up and down slop in my crankshaft.  It seemed wise not to run it until after I stripped the motor.  Once again, my brother Doug came to the rescue, offering me his '65 175 CZ, which he had recently gone through.  About seven Tiddlers show up and Doug & Amy's house Sun. morning and we rode over the Connecticut River to Steve Rossi's house.  About 32 in total showed up.  Oldest on the tour was a '52 BSA B-40, that reputedly came out of Borneo, ridden by one of the two fellows from New Hampshire.
 Newest on the tour was a 2009 Aprilla 125 two stroke the Bud Clauer had somehow managed to register.
After the Tour, Bud let me take this little pocket rocket for a quick spin.  It's utterly civilized, but you have to  ring it's scrawny little neck to make it fly, and fly it does.  Killer brakes, too. 

Smallest on the tour was this '81? Kawasaki AR 80
 Before taking off on the route, a tour of Steve's garage is always a must.  New items from last year were a Hercules wankel and a '51 Aermacchi 125 scooter

                                                      Steve's  '56? Moto Guzzi Galetto

Steve's 65cc Moto Guzzi Legarro

Steve's latest acquisition, a rotary engined Hercules

A 175 Benelli next to a V-50 Guzzi

After a good schmooze, I decided it was time to get this show on the road and took off with Mike Peavey in my draft on his newly imported Moto Guzzi Airone.  The seller thought it was a sport, but Mike figured out it was a Turismo that had been 'Sportized'.  The CZ, while not real fast, handled well, had good brakes and was comfortable, and we jammed hard to the lunch spot in Coventry, Ct.

 My brother's '65 175 CZ and Mike Peavey's '56? Moto Guzzi Turismo/Sport
 Just after we pulled up, and elderly gentleman walked up and said when he heard the CZ, he had to come over to check it out.  He was from Czechoslovakia and had owned a 150 Jawa in the old country.  He regaled us with stories of the good ol' days (and not so good ol' days; he had swum across a river to his freedom in 1971).  After chatting a bit, he continued his 7 mile walk from his house to his daughters.  After lunch and a good schmooze, Mike and I left last on the afternoon section and managed to pass everyone on the way back to Steve's house.  After another good schmooze, I headed back to Doug & Amy's house to pull the motor out of my Airone.  I ended up having some of the greatest minds in M/C mechanics helping me yank the motor out.  Food and drink followed.  Memorial day, I stripped the motor and found the drive side main bearing was shot and the timing side was loose.

  But, more troubling was the conrod  and crankshaft was heavily worn on the timing side indicating something was forcing the rod to that side.  This was the same condition I found in my Dondolino after it blew up, and it seems something is out of square.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last weekend,12-13 May, I took my 250 Aermacchi CRTT to Loudon, N.H. for the USCRA Vintage Celebration, a vintage bike and car event.  I last rode this bike at St.Eustache, near Montreal, and it ran terribly.  A month or so ago, I finally got around to looking at.  I started checking the basics and found the ignition timing at 19 degrees, not the 48 degrees it's supposed to be.  I think 'that must have been the problem, but why was it off.  Did I totally screw up when I set it or did the rotor move on the taper?'  I the first practice Sat., it ran well.  I put a fresh plug in for the 2nd practice and the bike seemed very good.  But, the plug looked lean and somewhat glazed despite the fact that I had the biggest main jet I own in the carb.  I checked the entire fuel system for any blockage and found nothing.

 So, I raise the needle a notch.  Come the race, the bike had no power and wouldn't rev.  It felt like the ignition was retarded and I thought the rotor must have move again.  I pulled off at the end of the first lap but, when I checked the timing, the marks lined right up.  I went over the motor hoping to find some problem, but didn't.  It's started easily, but on the warm-up lap of the 2nd race, again I had no power and it didn't want to rev and I pulled off at the end of the warm-up lap and didn't start the race.  Looking over the motor again I noticed the outside flywheel was cracked--again.

 I had cracked a couple before I had discovered my crank was out of true.  Now, the new flywheel I had put on after I had the crank trued was cracked.  More worrying was the 'dead spot' I felt when I turned the flywheel back and forth.  It felt like there was a loose big end or small end of the conrod or that the wrist pin or crankpin were broken or something about to fail catastrophically.  Yesterday, I took the top end down and found the piston had been hitting the head and the looseness was in the lower end with either big end bearing failure or a broken crankpin.  Clearly the cases have to come apart. 
But, that wasn't nearly as bad as my friend and arch nemesis, Phil Turkington crashing in the first practice and breaking his femur and foot.  The corner workers didn't see him and, depending who you listened to, he lay off the track either two or three laps until the practice was over and a couple of racers told race control he was out there.  Phil was remarkably philosophical about it, saying it was 'pilot error' and we must accept the consequences of the risks we take.  I think he has a high tolerance for pain , too.
The entry was pretty meager, but there were a few interesting bikes.

Jim Jower's 250 Ducati

Randy Hoffman's Vincent Comet

Randy Hoffman's KTT Velo in a featherbed chassis

A Laverda SFC
I don't usually pay much attention to cars, but there was a 1927(?) Bugatti there that I thought was fabulous.  It's a supercharged, 2 liter, straight eight.

  The motor looked like it was carved out of a solid block and nothing looked cast. 

The wheels, however, were definitely cast, and huge and cable operated.

 The Jaeger tach makes a Vincent speedo look insignificant. 

There were several interesting road bikes in attendance.  Bill Burke brought his 250 NSU Special Max and his Moto Guzzi 250 Airone Sport.

 Then a 680cc Brough Superior showed up to upstage everyone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Last weekend was the USCRA's Spring Giro, based at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Ma.  Event Director, Doug Boughton, had asked a mutual friend of ours, Scott Kolb, to be the keynote speaker at the banquet Sat. night.  Scott has set a number of Bonneville speed records with an RS 125 powered streamliner.
Doug also offered Scott his CL77 to compete in the Giro.  As Scott had never done a Giro before, Doug paired him with me.  There was a big turn out with 120 entries.  I was #105 and Scott #106.  Being the grizzled veteran I am, I showed Scott the ropes, beginning with losing track of the time while bullshitting with some one and punching in a couple of minutes late Sat. morning.  Scott and I had a great time playing Redman and Provini at the Isle of Man all weekend.  The CL 77 was a lot faster than my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport, so in the faster bits, Scott would get ahead of me so I could draft him.  We figure it was good for about 4 more MPH.  There was a fair amount of dirt roads, esp. on Sat., though Sun. had a particularly gnarly one.  Good fun.  The weather was superb and the roads were terrific.
A very nice Yetman CB77 above.
Moto Guzzi was represented by last Spring's overall winner, Devon Fraizer on a 110 Zigolo.  Devon finished 2nd in the 125 class this year.

Winner of the 125 Class was this Stornello

Ken Richardson rode his 235 Lodola.  Mike Peavey tried to ride his '54 Airone Sport Sat., but the needle came adrift in the carb.  He fixed this for Sun., but then the clutch failed.  He just acquired this bike and it needs a bit of sorting.  Both times, Mike reverted to his 235 Lodola, which was trouble free.
This is Peter Davidson on his C15 BSA

Mark Young's route sheet dashboard on his Ducati
A very nice 175 Gilera, though it had a Mikuni carb (gasp) and no airfilter which may not have been wise with the amount of dirt roads we had.

This is the overall winners bike, a CA77 Dream, with a very knobby front tire and an Ariel badge on the tank.  Who would have thought?

After we finished Sun. afternoon, I ask Scott if he'd like to take my Airone for a spin.  He was gone awhile and finally came back pushing the bike.  The oil supply pipe had broken covering his right foot and the motor in oil.  Luckily, this happened after the Giro had finished and not far away.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Last weekend I attended the Corsa Motoclassica at Willow Springs, something I have done for the last 8 years.  My prospects there dimmed steadily over the month or so preceding it.  Initially, I had three rides lined up: a '51 Velo MAC for Class'C;, a 350 Aermacchi for 350gp, and a '66 Suzuki X-6 for 350gp and/or F-250.  First, the owner of the Velo informed me that things were tight and he had an opportunity to work that weekend and he wouldn't be able to make it.  The Aermacchi needed a frame,which was under construction.  The frame builder promised delivery first 3 weeks before the event, than 2 weeks before the event, then one week before and, finally, two weeks after the event.

Susan Isenman photos
That left the Suzuki and last Mon. I told it's owner, my old friend Kerry Beriont, that now I was really depending on him.  He said not to worry; it would definitely be there for Fri. practice, though the fresh top end wasn't on the motor yet.  Fri. morning at the track, I got a call saying the bike was being loaded into Rob North's trailer (behind his bus) and they be starting the 3.5 hr. drive shortly.  They ended up arriving shortly after practice had ended Fri. afternoon.  Kerry put some fuel in it and we tried to start it, to no avail.  After searching for for some time, Kerry found the broken wire and repaired it.   We tried to start it  again, to no avail.  After more searching, Jason spotted the disconnected wire and, once connected, the motor finally started.  Things were looking up; now can we go eat?
In Sat. morning's practice, I take it easy, breaking in the fresh pistons and rings, but I can already tell the bike is pretty fast, but doesn't handle well and I'm dragging the pipes.  It wobbled pretty badly and I figured the suspension was too stiff.  But, checking it out with Pierre Vailancourt, from Works Performance shocks, we found it not far off and made only minor preload adjustments to the rear shocks.  In the last practice, I noticed it didn't wobble so much if I stayed tucked behind the bubble,  I decided there wasn't enough weight on the front end and maybe the wind was initiating the wobble.
Susan Isenman photo

So, for the 350gp race, I made a big effort to stay down and get as forward forward as the long tank would allow.  Like magic, the bike was transformed and now the bike felt quite stable.  Being on the pole, as I'm the reigning class champion, I got a good start and led the first couple of laps.  Then, Paul Germain, on his extremely well developed (and well ridden) DT-1 Yamaha, came by.  I got back by him and led again for a lap or so.  Then, Bruce Yoximer, on his beautiful Seeley, short stroke 7R, came by.  I followed him for a lap or so, then drafted by at the end of the straight into turn #1, but he immediately came back by.  Approaching turn #3, Bruce threw his hand up and slowed and I thought his motor had blown and I swept by, only to see the red flag.  I immediately slowed and Germain came flying by before he saw the red flag.  Lorraine Crussell had crashed and was in the impact zone of the 'Omega' and our fun was over with.  Yoximer was scored 1st, me 2nd, and Germain 3rd, Tim Sheedy on a Honda four was 4th and Rusty Lowry on a short stroke 350 Aermacchi was 5th, all very different bikes.Susan Isenman photo
Two races later, I went out on the same bike for the bump-up race, F-250.  But, on the warm up lap, the motor didn't feel right, surging, sometimes pulling strong, sometimes weak.  I pulled into pit lane and, after a quick consult with Kerry, we found nothing obviously wrong and I started from the pit lane after the grid had left.  It started strong but, by the time I got to 4th gear, it started fading and misfiring.  I putted around slowly and pulled off at the end of the lap.
It seemed like ignition, but all Kerry found was a fouled plug; cause or effect?  Sun. morning, I went out for practice with nothing changed except new, hotter plugs.  It ran great, but now we had clutch slip.  Kerry put in new clutch springs and it was better in the second practice, but  still slipped a bit when I shifted from 5th to 6th.
In Sun. 350gp race, I blew the start when I shifted to 2nd too soon and bogged and had to go back to down to 1st.  Four bikes passed me before turn #1.  I got one back in turn #2 , two more on the back straight and the last one just before the last turn on the first lap.  I didn't see anyone other than lapees until the last corner of the last lap when Jeff Elings came by on his 500 Paton, riding in the F-500 class.
But, Yoximer and Germain had been close the whole time until Yox dropped out when he drive pulley came adrift and Germain finished close behind.  Yox had the fastest lap in the class, with me second fastest, and Germain third.
It ended up being a very thin field in the F-250 race, as Elings and Ralph Hudson both had bike problems and I finished 2nd in the two bike class, to Dave Crussell on his quick Kawasaki 350 Bighorn.  I did keep Dave in sight and my lap times were almost as quick as in the 350gp.
I think a lot of people were surprised by the performance of Kerry's Suzuki as some thought it looked fairly ordinary.  But, Kerry has put together a very quick, if simple racer.  My thanks to Kerry for what turned out to be a fine ride.
Entries were quite healthy and there was a good turn out for the bike show on Sat., so maybe the slump in AHRMA racing, and bike racing in general, is reversing.
Here are some bike show photos:
I forget if this was a 650, 700, or 750cc RG Suzuki allegedly ridden by Virginio Ferrari.  It had amazingly bulbous expansion chambers.
photos by Susan Isenman

I had seen Motobecane two strokes before, but never a four stroke.  It must be really undersquare as it has an extremely tall engine for a 175.  Love the logoPhotos by Nancy Beriont

Susan Isenman photo
Me talking to the owner of a 73cc Moto Guzzi CardalinoSusan Isenman photo

This is a '39 Moto Guzzi Egretta, a for runner to my beloved 250 Airone Sport.  Exposed valve gear, girder forks, rigid rear, and hand shift.  It could be yours as it's for sale.  But, act fast as I'm tempted

photos by Susan Isenman

A beautiful 150 Gilera
A Van Tech with an Ace 100 Hodaka motor

Nancy Beriont photo
A Benelli Leonchino 175, I believe
Susan Isenman photo